Reading inspiration

This last weekend I’ve been in Canberra for my brother’s 21st (it was a dress-up party; I may put up some pictures when I get them from Mum — I did my usual trick of forgetting to take any). To get to Canberra from Sydney, there’s a three and a half hour bus trip each way, which I often look forward to. I love staring out the window, musing over things in my life, making plans or just playing make-believe. I also often use the time to catch up on my podcast listening.

I subscribe to a few, but hardly ever listen to them. I’ve probably got about fifty episodes of the Book Show left to listen to, for example.

So on the trip back yesterday I got through a couple of them. In one episode Ramona Koval was talking to Sarah Waters, who is known for her novels set in the Victorian era, usually with some kind of lesbian storyline. They were speaking about her then-new (the episode was six months old) book, The Little Stranger. I’ve not read the book, but its gothic nature appealed to me and I suddenly remembered the books I devoured as a teenager: Frankenstein, The Turn of the Screw, Northanger Abbey, Dracula, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

I loved gothic literature. As Waters mentioned in the interview, the supernatural is a wonderful space to explore anxieties and uncertainties, dysfunction and, possibly, mental illness. Of course, these are things I am obsessed with in my own fiction, albeit in a more realist way.

But as a teen I wrote creepy little gothic stories, which were probably really very bad. Unexpectedly empty houses with all the lights on, stormy nights, taps turning on by themselves, steep hills to walk up in the dark, footsteps coming from nowhere. All these things appeared in my stories. And they were fun!

I feel a return to the gothic coming on, at least in my reading. Now if I could just find my copy of The Woman in White


On Tuesday I sent off the two short stories I’ve been working on this semester; a little electronic envelope out off into the ether to find my teacher. I’m really looking forward to her feedback.

I’m done at uni for the year, and at work we’re talking about Christmas leave and New Year plans. I can’t believe it’s nearly my birthday all over again, and then suddenly summer will be over and I’ll be loving the autumn leaves.

But I love this time of year. I always start making plans, and making mental lists. I make a list of all the things I’ve done this year, good and bad; and I make a list of things I would like to do in the next year.

For the first time last year I made a list of writing projects I would like to complete, or even just start, as well as the usual life stuff. I’ve started doing the same this year. I’m not sure what it is about the end and beginning of a year that motivates people to do this, but I guess it can’t be a bad thing.

So plans are being hatched. Watch this space.